Author Archives: George Simmers

After many years as a teacher, I retired and began researching for a Ph.D. on the fiction of the Great War – especially the books, stories and plays that were written during the War or immediately afterwards.

Review: An Arnold Bennett Companion

Declaration of interest: I’m not exactly unbiased, since this collection includes my own essay: ‘Against Prussianism’: Bennett and the Great War’. Arnold Bennett is a great novelist who remains seriously under-celebrated. Even to many students of English Literature he is known only as Virginia Woolf’s whipping boy. Cultivated readers who can talk sensibly The Great […]

F. W. Harvey in the Daily Mail

I was browsing around, looking at 1915 issues of the Daily Mail, searching a bit vaguely for something else entirely, when I was delighted to find an article featuring that very likeable poet, F. W. Harvey, and the story of how he won his medal:

Armine Wodehouse in the Times of India

I’ve written here before about the war poetry of Armine Wodehouse (Pelham Grenville’s brother), and I’ve written more, by the way, in a contribution to the forthcoming collection of critical essays, Middlebrow Wodehouse. I knew that after the War Armine W. returned to India,and I knew that he contributed light verse to Punch. What I […]

First fictional psychoanalysis?

Rose Allatini’s novel When I was a Queen in Babylon (1921) is uneven, but contains many pleasures and surprises. I’ll write a fuller account of it later, but now want to ask: Is this the first English novel to contain a description of Freudian psychoanalytical sessions? Plenty of other novelists were interested in Freudian ideas […]

The Well of Loneliness

Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness is rarely mentioned in discussions of war novels. It is famous as the novel about Lesbianism that was prosecuted and banned in 1928. The War, though, is at the heart of the novel. Stephen, the ‘invert’ heroine has been shunned and rejected in peacetime. War gives her a chance […]

1864

Over the past few Saturday nights I’ve been watching 1864, the latest BBC4 serial imported from Denmark. And the  more I have seen of it, the greater my sense of déjà vu. The sadistic schoolmaster preaching mindless patriotism; the unpleasant and corrupt members of the upper classes; the utterly decent lower classes; the admirable gipsies; […]

The War Workers

The good news is that on  the Reading 1900-1950 blog there is a new review by Val383 of E.M. Delafield’s The War Workers, one of my favourites among novels published during the War years. The even better news is that The War Workers is now available as an ebook from  Girlebooks, an organisation new to […]

Theosophists and lesbians

One of my current projects is trying to understand Rose Allatini, author of the remarkable novel Despised and Rejected (1918). Since the novel was prosecuted and banned, it is not surprising that Allatini seems to have shirked the subject of deviant sexualities in her later fiction. The 1935 novel Girl of Good Family (written under […]

Send out the boys of the girls’ brigade

I’m thinking again about the chapter on soldiers’ songs that I’m writing for a collection on the the First World War and the Arts. In September 1914, a Times reader shared ‘the latest popular marching song from Aldershot’, whose words, he said, were the work of a sergeant in the Gordon Highlanders: Send out the […]

Letchworth (a footnote to John Buchan)

In John Buchan’s  Mr Standfast (1919), Richard Hannay is sent on an undercover mission to ‘the Garden City of Biggleswick’, to live among the   high-minded pacifists who set the place’s tone. One of the residents describes the city: ‘It is one great laboratory of thought,’ said Mrs Jimson. ‘It is glorious to feel that […]

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